Japanese man freed by N.Korea returns to Tokyo: media

A Japanese man detained by North Korea earlier this month arrived in Tokyo on Tuesday, local media reported, after Pyongyong said it was freeing him on humanitarian grounds.

Tomoyuki Sugimoto arrived at Tokyo's Haneda airport from Beijing, where he landed earlier Tuesday, according to public broadcaster NHK and Kyodo news agency.

Reporters at the airport did not see the man while the foreign ministry did not immediately confirm his arrival.

His arrest was reported earlier in August, though the exact date and reason for his detention remains unclear.

Earlier this week North Korea's KCNA news agency said he was being released, without providing further details of why he had been detained.

"The relevant institution of the DPRK decided to leniently condone him and expel him from the DPRK on the principle of humanitarianism," it said, using the acronym for the North's official name.

Japan's foreign ministry has not commented on the details of the detention.

North Korea has a long history of arresting foreigners on spying charges and then using them as diplomatic pawns.

But a thaw in relations between much of the international community and Pyongyang saw it release three US detainees in May in an apparent goodwill gesture before a US-North Korea summit.

Tokyo has largely stood on the sidelines of the whirlwind of diplomacy, but has reportedly sought its own summit with Pyongyang in hopes of resolving issues including the abduction of Japanese nationals by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s.

There has been little information about Sugimoto, with Japanese media describing him as a 39-year-old videographer who was visiting the North on a tour arranged by a foreign travel agency.

He may have been suspected of shooting video of a military facility in the western port city of Nampo, reports cited Japanese government sources as saying.

Tokyo advises Japanese citizens against travel to North Korea as part of its economic sanctions on the country.